The Best Way to Withdraw Cash While Overseas

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Have you ever come home from a trip abroad and been shocked to see fees on your bank statement?  It’s not a fun way to end your vacation!

Most US banks add currency conversion fees of 1% to 3% for using ATMs abroad.  And sometimes, there’s an ATM fee of ~$3 to $5 in addition to the foreign exchange fee.  These fees can put a dent in your plans for Big Travel with Small Money!

The good news is some checking accounts do NOT charge currency conversion fees.  And they’ll even give you a rebate for any ATM charges anywhere in the world!

The Best Way To Withdraw Cash While Overseas

Foreign Transaction Fees and ATM Fees Are Frustrating! But Some Checking Accounts Don’t Add Them

I’ve made a list of the best checking accounts to use overseas.  And I’ll compare these accounts to help you decide which option is best for you!

What’s a Hard Pull and Why Does It Matter?

One thing to consider when opening any account, like a checking, savings, or credit card, is whether the bank does a “hard pull” on your credit report.

Banks access or “pull” your credit report whenever you apply for credit or open certain accounts.  These pulls are either “hard” or “soft.”

Hard pulls (or inquiries) happen when you’re applying for credit, like when a bank checks your credit report when you apply for loans, credit cards, or mortgages.  And sometimes when you open a bank account.  Hard pulls can impact your credit score.

There’s a soft pull when you check your credit report, receive pre-approved credit card offers, or go through an employee background check.

Soft pulls do NOT affect your credit score.

The Best Way To Withdraw Cash While Overseas

Your Chance of Getting Approved for Credit Cards and Other Loans, Like Mortgages, Is Lower If You Have a Lot of Hard Credit Inquiries On Your Report

So you have to be aware of these pulls when applying for credit cards and opening bank accounts!

3 Best Checking Accounts to Use Overseas

1.   Charles Schwab Checking Account

Link:   Charles Schwab Checking Account

Link:   My Review of the Charles Schwab Checking Account

One of the best free checking accounts to use overseas is the Charles Schwab Checking Account.  That’s because you’ll get free, unlimited use of ANY ATM worldwide.  And NO foreign transaction fees on purchases!

Your daily transaction limit is $15,000 and you can withdraw $1,000 a day at ATMs.

You’ll also get:

  • No-fee overdraft protection
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Free checks
  • Free mobile check deposit
  • Free bill pay
  • Chip-and-PIN technology

There are a couple of things to keep in mind, though.

You will receive a hard pull on your credit report when you open this account, which can cause your credit score to temporarily dip.  I spoke with 3 representatives at Charles Schwab to confirm this.

You also must open a Charles Schwab investment account.  But, it’s free and you don’t have to use it.

Also note they’ll apply the fee rebates to your account once per month, when your statement closes.

The Best Way To Withdraw Cash While Overseas

I Had to Withdraw Local Currency From an ATM to Buy This Chinese Hot Pot in Hong Kong

I’ve used my Charles Schwab debit card to withdraw cash at ATMs in Mumbai and Hong Kong.  And I’m always happy to see the reimbursement for ATM fees on my bank statement!

2.   Fidelity Cash Management Account

Link:   Fidelity Cash Management Account

Like the Schwab checking account, you’ll get free use of ANY ATM worldwide with the Fidelity Cash Management Account.

But you WILL be charged a 1% foreign transaction fee on purchases!

Your daily transaction limit is slightly lower too: $10,000 in purchases and $500 in ATM withdrawals.

You’ll also get:

  • Free overdraft protection
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Free checks
  • Free mobile check deposit
  • Free bill pay
  • Chip-and-PIN technology

This account may be a better choice for some because it does NOT require a hard pull on your credit report.  That’s good for folks who may soon be applying for mortgages, for example.  And who are trying to limit the number of hard inquiries on their credit file.  

The Best Way To Withdraw Cash While Overseas

Emily Needed Rupees to Buy These Beautiful Slippers in Jaipur, India

This would be a great option if you have or are considering the Fidelity 2% Cash Back Visa card.  Because you can deposit your cash-back rewards into this account!

3.   Summit Checking by Aspiration Bank

Link:   Summit Checking Account

When traveling outside the US, the Summit Checking Account is a newer option for folks who want to withdraw cash without fees.  Like both the Schwab and Fidelity accounts, you’ll get free use of any ATM anywhere in the world.

BUT, anytime a transaction is made in non-US currency, there’s a 0.2% fee.  If the transaction is done in another country, there’s an additional 0.9% fee.  So most of your foreign travel charges are going to have a rate of 1.1% – but remember, you’ll be reimbursed for any ATM fees!

The non-US currency 0.2% charge (while negligible) might be important to some folks who make overseas charges while they’re in the US.

Your daily purchase limit is only $2,000.  And the daily ATM withdrawal limit is $500.

And they don’t offer overdraft protection.  So your purchase or withdrawal will be declined if it exceeds your account balance.

Because Aspiration Bank is still new, they don’t yet have bill pay and mobile deposit options.

Two good things about this account are they have higher checking account interest rates than most other banks (0.25% on balances up to ~$2,500 and 1% on balances above $2,500).  And opening an account does NOT require a hard credit inquiry.

Interestingly, they suggest you pay whatever you’d like for their service.  So essentially this IS a free account if you decide not to pay for it.

The concept is intriguing, but the other 2 options are better.  Because they have bill pay, mobile deposits, and overdraft protection.  

Other Checking Account Options

I looked into what fees these banks charge, too.  So you wouldn’t have to!

Ally Bank

Ally Bank reimburses up to $10 in ATM fees each statement period and charges 1% in foreign transaction fees.

Bank of America

Bank of America charges an ATM fee of $5 plus 3% of the amount withdrawn and has 3% in foreign transaction fees.

Bank of Internet USA

Bank of Internet USA charges a 2% foreign transaction fee and doesn’t reimburse for any ATM fees.

Chase Bank

Chase Bank will charge you $5 plus 3% of the withdrawal amount in ATM fees and a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Citibank

Citibank charges $2.50 plus 3% of the amount withdrawn from an ATM overseas along with 3% in foreign transaction fees.

PNC Bank

This isn’t a good option because they charge 3% in foreign transaction fees and $5 when you withdraw cash at a foreign ATM.

Simple

There’s a 1% foreign transaction fee to use your Simple card overseas.  And they don’t reimburse fees charged by out-of-network ATMs.

TD Bank

TD bank does NOT charge foreign transaction fees but you’ll be charged $3 for using an out-of-network ATM.

USAA

USAA charges a 1% foreign transaction fee and you won’t be reimbursed for ATM fees incurred while outside the US.

US Bank

US Bank charges 3% in foreign transaction fees and $2.50 plus 3% of the amount withdrawn from an ATM overseas.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo charges a $5 ATM fee and 3% in foreign transaction fees when using your debit card abroad.

Bottom Line

The Charles Schwab Checking account and Fidelity Cash Management account are terrific options for folks who want to withdraw cash abroad without paying extra.  Because it’s no fun paying fees while you’re on vacation!

The main difference is Fidelity has a 1% foreign transaction fee and Charles Schwab doesn’t.  You’ll also get higher daily spending and ATM withdrawal limits with the Charles Schwab account.

But you WILL get a hard pull on your credit report when applying for the Charles Schwab account.  And you won’t when opening the Fidelity account.

The Summit Checking Account is an interesting option.  But it’s too new to have all of the account perks I like, such as bill pay and mobile deposit.

Do you have any of these accounts?  Share your experience in the comments!

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

19 responses to “The Best Way to Withdraw Cash While Overseas

  1. How the hell did you leave out Capital One 360? They’re 100% free and online and charge no ATM or foreign transaction fees on their debit card. Plus come with a 0.20% interest rate. It’s my go-to account when overseas.
    Cheers from Singapore

  2. I second the Capital One 360 route. Works like a charm when we travel overseas.

  3. The Fidelity charges a fee on purchases but not on withdrawing from an ATM, right?

  4. I had a fidelity and schwab, both will close automatically with no warning if there is no activity on the account for several months, I had to reopen the schwab account and thus another credit check

  5. @Maury

    Correct. If you use the debit card at an ATM, no 1% fee. If you use it for anything else, there will be a 1% fee. I have used it in multiple countries and have never been assessed the fee for ATM withdrawls. It seems like every time this is posted by someone, this isn’t articulated correctly.

  6. Capital One 360 has worked for me in England, Italy and Israel. No ATM fees, no FTF’s, good exchange rate. Be sure to choose the local currency option when withdrawing cash. You will get the correct exchange rate through the Master Card system. AllPoint ATM’s will offer you an immediate exchange rate in US dollars which is not very good.

  7. With Citi Gold there is no ATM fee or transaction fee. But foreign ATM bank fee is not reimbursed. Its a huge savings. If you withdraw 1k per month it saves you over $300 per year.

  8. @Chaser123

    $30?

  9. I have the CapitalOne 360 and have used it overseas many times to withdraw money from ATMs and have been charged an ATM withdrawal fee from local bank.

  10. I’ve used CapitalOne 360 to withdraw money in foreign countries for years without any fees. Though most recently was charged a $9 fee to withdraw cash from an ATM in a touristy section of Cabo. I don’t know if they recently changed their policy or have to be very careful which ATM’s you used.

  11. Robert Hanson

    Citi has changed their rules.

    I’m CitiGold (at the moment), and in the past there was never an ATM fee for overseas withdrawals. I just called Citi, and they confirmed there is now a $2.50 fee for using a non-Citi ATM. Plus in just a few months the required minimum monthly average for CitiGold (in all of your Citi accounts combined) goes from $50K to $200K !!!

    If you are CitiGold now, but have less than $200K in your Citi accounts, you will soon lose your CitiGold status. 🙁

  12. If you bank at a Credit Union you probably already have free ATM use worldwide, no ATM fees, no transaction fees and no currency conversion fees. Your foreign currency comes out of the ATM at whatever the exchange rate is that day. Also some countries, like Austria forbid ATM transaction fees by the local banks.

  13. I use the Charles Schwab account overseas for withdrawing cash, really enjoy the no ATM / foreign exchange fee features. My situation is a bit different in that I use the “savings” account instead of a regular checking. Due to work limitation I can’t have any brokerage accounts outside of work. I still get a debit card, however with the savings account there’s a limit to 6 transactions in a statement month. Heads up though I also got a hard inquiry from opening a savings account. 🙁

  14. My experience with Credit Union account ATM cash withdrawals abroad: If the ATM machine has a network logo matching my ATM card (Interlink, Cirrus, etc) then no fees are charged, otherwise Visa network is used and currency conversion fee is charged (1% with one CU, 2% with another CU account). The exchange rate is competitive (comparable to Chase sapphire preferred card purchase transactions on same day).

  15. tassojunior

    I’m top-elite level checking at BOA and get my fees refunded domestically but just was in Prague and got charged the $5 fee for a $400 atm withdrawal PLUS a $17 foreign transaction fee by the Czech bank.Going back to cash carrys.

  16. @Brian Thanks for the clarification on the Fidelity lack of fees for ATM withdrawals. I was beginning to second guess myself. I’ve used the Fidelity card for 10 years and it has saved me over $1000 in ATM fees. Banks in Thailand now charge $5 for an ATM withdrawal; without the Fidelity Card I’d feel inclined to carry huge amounts of cash to avoid paying more fees.

  17. I just finished an online chat session with a Fidelity rep and they confirmed that they do indeed charge a 1% foreign transaction fee for ATM overseas withdrawals.

  18. San Diego El

    I am in U.K right now.
    Not only have arm at Heathrow been taken over by private $ exchange,the atm all over are advertising “free cash withdrawals”.
    They are cheating on the exchange rate.
    I stopped withdrawing the GBP at these rip off exchange rates.
    I use my capital one credit card most everywhere.

  19. San Diego El

    Sorry
    Supposed to write
    “Not only have ATM” not arm

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